A collaboration between three physicians at Heart Hospital in London and Glassworks, a UK digital animation firm, has produced a digital model of the heart that can interface with a virtual TEE simulator, and a haptic device for physical feedback with a human mannequin.
Through a chance meeting at a dinner party 2 years ago, Glassworks were asked to create a Virtual Heart Simulator that allows the user to interact with an animated, realistic, anatomically accurate, ‘virtual’ 3D model of the heart in real time. The brief required the operator to be able to control the orientation of the heart and make planar slices in any orientation through the heart on the computer screen. From these slices the operator would be able to show the anatomical relationships between the various internal and external structures of the heart.
This Simulator would produce a real-time rendition of a photo-realistic computer graphics heart that could be sliced interracially on any plain and produce a completely authentic graphic ultrasonic representation of that plain instantly.
During development it became clear that the accuracy of the 3D model and the quality of the real time render engine combined, would have far wider benefits than originally envisaged. It could be used for transoesophageal as well as conventional echocardiography teaching purposes, for angiography, cardiac surgery and a great variety of other applications in anatomy and education.